Jacintha Saldanha was duped by Mel Greig and Michael Christian when they phoned London’s King Edward VII Hospital pretending to be members of the Royal Family asking about the Duchess, while she was being treated there for acute morning sickness last week (begs03Dec12).
The mother-of-two was found dead in staff accommodation at the hospital on Friday (07Dec12), three days after taking the prank call, and the DJs were subsequently taken off air.
Greig and Christian broke their silence on Monday (10Dec12) in an emotional interview on Australian news programme A Current Affair, and they spoke of their shock when they were told about the tragedy.
They heard of Saldanha’s death on Saturday (08Dec12) and Greig said of the moment, “It was the worst phone call I’ve ever had in my life… There’s not a minute that goes by where we don’t think about her family and what they must be going through, and the thought that we may have played a part in that is gut-wrenching…”
Christian adds, “Prank calls are made every day, on every radio station in every country, around the world and they have been for a long time and no-one could’ve imagined this to happen… (I am) shattered, gutted and heartbroken.”
The radio presenter also blamed his superiors for making the decision to air the segment, adding, “People far above (make the final decision) and I am 100 per cent honestly saying we are not privy to what happens.”
In a subsequent interview for Australia’s Today Tonight programme, Greig adds, “Unfortunately I remember that moment (I was told of the death) very well because I haven’t stopped thinking about it since it happened and I remember my first question was, ‘Was she a mother?’
“The accents (during the prank) were terrible. You know it was designed to be stupid. We were never meant to get that far from the little corgis barking in the background – we obviously wanted it to be a joke. If we played any involvement in her death then we’re very sorry for that. And time will only tell.”
Officials at the Sydney radio station 2DayFM claimed at least five attempts were made to contact the hospital before airing the call, and declared they will review the company’s broadcasting procedures after receiving more than 1,000 complaints from listeners over the stunt.